|About the Book|
Since its inception in 1976 - immediately after the collapse of the Labor Government that created it - the Family Court of Australia has become one of Australias most controversial public institutions. The formation of the Family Court, largely theMoreSince its inception in 1976 - immediately after the collapse of the Labor Government that created it - the Family Court of Australia has become one of Australias most controversial public institutions. The formation of the Family Court, largely the work of Attorney General (and later High Court Judge) Lionel Murphy, represented a major change in emphasis from traditional common law methods of dealing with family law matters. This legislation will have been in operation for twenty years by the time the book is published. Nowadays, divorce affects almost every member of society - not only those who go through the process, but also their relatives and friends. The increasing commonness of divorce (one in three marriages now end in divorce) - and the role of the Family Court in fostering public acceptance of divorce represent two fundamental social departures in modern Australia. It is clearly time for a comprehensive survey of the Act, the workings of this vital, if contested, court.Leonie Star, who regards the Family Court as perhaps the most significant court in the country, provides a legal and historical introduction to the international jurisprudence of divorce and covers the decisive years before 1976 when Lionel Murphy persuaded Parliament to enact his radical legislation. Counsel of Perfection examines the dominant personalities who have shaped the Family Court: Lionel Murphy himself, Justice Elizabeth Evatt, and the second and present Chief Justice of the Family Court, Alistair Nicholson, who, she argues, has moved the Family Court away from Murphy and Evatts more informal, non-confrontational model, introducing greater formality and a new managerial regime, and spending more money on the Court itself. Leonie Star covers the traumatic years of the early 1980s, when Family Court judges became targets of bombings and assassination. Judge David Opas murder in 1980 was the first killing connected with an Australian court and introduced a terrible new element in the administration law. Star analyses recent legislative reviews of Lionel Murphys original legislation and the Family Courts new interest in multiculturalism, genital mutilation of children, child abuse and maintenance, and the rights and expectations of gay and lesbian covers. She concludes, This is as close to perfection as the court is likely to achieve.